Saturday, January 4, 2014

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

If there were a water shortage, the people living in cities with no real water sources of their own would be desperate. In Lynn's world, water has always been scarce to the point that those who have it, guard it with their lives. In Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis isn't afraid to show just how dark and cruel the world can be. 

Lynn and Mother live and survive by themselves. They don't need anyone else. They protect their little pond, gather and store food and wood to get them through the winter, and they shoot anyone who comes close to their water. They have to. In this world, its killed or be killed, and Mother doesn't let anyone get close enough to tip the scales in their favor. When an unfortunate accident leaves Lynn all by herself, she knows she can survive, but she isn't sure she is willing to survive the way her mother always taught her to. When her neighbor, Stebbs, makes contact, Lynn breaks every rule her mother set. She talks to him. Even worse, she agrees to check out the camp of strangers down stream who clearly have no idea what they are doing. 

Lynn has never had to deal with people, so she doesn't come off as terribly empathetic when she meets Eli. He and his niece Lucy and Lucy's very pregnant mother Neva have been camping and trying to survive, but with the group of dangerous men nearby who took all their food and Neva's refusal to leave the side of the stream, life hasn't been easy. Now Neva is in labor and in trouble. Normally Lynn would have left them to fend for themselves, but Stebbs convinces her that the world isn't always so black and white. When people have more than they need and have the ability to help those who don't, their choices say a lot about them. And so begins Lynn's new life- one where she has to trust people more than she ever has. 

This was a seriously realistic, interesting post-apocalyptic story that, in my humble opinion, accurately depicts the world we would live in if water became more valuable than money. The descriptions of life in the cities where people are forced to live in poverty, desperately trying to make enough to buy water and the life in the wilds where people with water sources hold onto them fiercely. The descriptions of Lynn and her mother were truly remarkable. A woman with a daughter, surviving all those years alone, they had to become a hardened to the plights of those around them, and McGinnis did a beautiful job of explaining that. I loved that while Lynn grew up being suspicious of everyone and shooting before asking questions, she still had it in her to care about people, like her love for little Lucy. Even giving Stebbs a chance was a huge step for Lynn, and while each step took courage, she was willing to brave new territory.

This is a great book for anyone new to the PA genre or someone who already delved into it. It is a very realistic portrait of life after the end of the world as we knew it. The violence is certainly there, as it has to be for this kind of landscape, but it isn't gratuitous. The story is relatively short, about 300 pages, but it is a full and complete story from start to finish with an ending that couldn't be more perfect. The characters certainly suffer some losses, and you see how truly ugly people can be in a world like this, but you will be happy with the course of events that has to take place. I really loved this book, and I will be keeping an eye on McGinnis from now on!

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